Israel is experiencing a surge in tourism. In 2017, a record number of tourists visited the country – 3.6 million, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. While there are still some kinks to work out (such as a lack of accommodations to accommodate these visitors), tourism is generally good for the economy.
But will our high prices eventually send tourists running the other way?
It’s no secret that Israel is expensive, but many visitors have no idea just how expensive it is until they arrive here. Hotel prices in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem rival luxury hotels in other parts of the world. Travelers can easily spend $350-$450 a night to stay in a hotel. Even hostels can cost $66 or more per night. In Europe, hostel stays generally range from $15-$45 per night.
Savvy travelers will opt for hotels with free breakfast and get their food from local supermarkets and food markets. But that prevents them from enjoying and savoring our food. Dining at a restaurant is an experience that every visitor should have, but many are just unable to fit that into their budgets. Visiting Israel’s many wonderful sights is at the top of the priority list.
Transportation can also be pricey, and while many cities are walkable, not every traveler can handle or is able to walk and bike everywhere (especially during summer when the heat can be unbearable for those who aren’t used to it).
Part of the problem with high hotel costs is that the ratio of a number of rooms to the number of workers is nearly one-to-one. So, a hotel with 200 rooms would need about 200 workers to run it. Hiring that many workers come at a significant cost, as the minimum wage in Israel is higher than in most other countries (10% higher than Spain and five times higher than Jordan).
Building hotels is also a costly and lengthy matter. For this reason, it’s difficult to find motels and hostels in the center of the country. But there has been proposed legislation that would speed up the approval process and simplify the procedure in the National Infrastructure Committee.
Overcoming the high costs of staying in Israel would certainly be a step in the right direction. Many travelers don’t want to pay $100 for a flight from Europe to Israel only to spend $350 a night to stay in a hotel.
The high cost of traveling to Israel is a complex problem with no easy solution – if there is one at all. But it’s possible that we may eventually see a decline in visitors if we are unable to change things. The hotel law may help with high hotel costs and steps have already been taken to make flights more affordable. Tourists may be able to swallow the high costs of dining out or taking a tour if they aren’t spending a small fortune on their flight and hotel stay.